The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recognized Jenner & Block Partner David Jimenez-Ekman with its Annual Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service Award at a ceremony on June 1, 2022. Mr. Jimenez-Ekman was celebrated for his relentless advocacy for Ken Smith, who was imprisoned in 2001 for a murder and robbery he did not commit. Mr. Jimenez-Ekman started work on Mr. Smith’s case in 2006 and, with the support of various Jenner & Block lawyers over the years, was ultimately successful. In April 2021, the Seventh Circuit held that the evidence was constitutionally insufficient to sustain Mr. Smith’s conviction and Mr. Smith was freed from the Lawrence Correctional Center on May 6 of last year, ending what Mr. Jimenez-Ekman called an “almost two-decade nightmare.”
Our Pro Bono Commitment
The Pro Bono Institute (PBI) honored Jenner & Block with its Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) Partner Award for the collaborative efforts with McDonald’s Corporation and the National Immigration Justice Center (NIJC) in achieving asylum for several pro bono clients.
For several years, volunteers from the legal department of McDonald’s have partnered with Jenner & Block and Goldberg Kohn Ltd. on approximately 20 cases referred by NIJC, working collaboratively to represent immigrants applying for asylum.
By working together, the in-house and law firm lawyers and staff share resources and divide responsibilities, such as interviewing and developing rapport with clients who have been through harrowing situations; drafting the client’s affidavits and briefs; reviewing medical, news, and police reports; gathering personal statements from the client’s relatives; meeting with expert witnesses; and preparing for immigration court hearings. The partnership has obtained asylum for numerous individuals who are fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries, and seeking to create a new life for themselves and their families in the United States.
Partner Wade A. Thomson leads the collaborative efforts of this important partnership. Other firm lawyers and staff involved throughout the collaboration include Partners Jennifer S. Amerkhail, Mark Davis, Terri L. Mascherin, Mike McNamara, Andrew F. Merrick, Megan B. Poetzel, Gay Sigel, Howard J. Symons, and Shaun M. Van Horn; Associates Umer M. Chaudhry, Brian B. Druchniak, Brenna J. Field, Maria del Carmen González, Meg Hlousek, Sam Jahangir, Ari Kanavy, Elpitha B. Lambros, Lindsey A. Lusk, Philip B. Sailer, and Hope H. Tone-Keefe; Attorneys Jennifer Beach, Edmundo Cuevas, Pedro Fernandez, and Anthony Nguyen; and several professional staff members including Terri Busch, Zulaikha Master, Fallon McDowell, Tricia Peavler, Margaret Petit, Paul Ramonas, and James Walsh.
Mr. Thomson and the legal teams were recognized for the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award on October 14 at 6:30pm ET during PBI’s Annual Awards Gala.